On the Radio (1986-1996)

BMX Bandits

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On the Radio (1986-1996) Review

by Stephen Schnee

BMX Bandits, the Scottish pop group founded and fronted by Duglas T. Stewart, had been releasing records for nearly 20 years yet remained virtually unknown to the masses. Sharing studio time and members with Teenage Fanclub through much of their existence, the Bandits are capable of creating intelligent and witty pop that touches the heart while tapping the toes. If you can imagine Mike Love singing lead for Teenage Fanclub, then you're closer to understanding the magic of the Bandits. A comprehensive compilation would be the best introduction to the band, but since the band has recorded for numerous labels (including Creation, Vinyl Japan, and others), On the Radio is probably the closest you're going to get to a best-of. Stripping away the studio shine, this collection of BBC radio broadcasts is charming, raw, and infectious. This is the Bandits doing what they do best, and having a great time doing it. Apart from group classics like "Getting' Dirty," "Little Hands," "Green Grow the Rushes," and "Hello Again," Duglas and the boys (including longtime partner in crime Francis MacDonald) pull out cool oddities like "Groovy Good Luck Friend," "Take 5," "Flipper," and a great cover of Jonathan Richman's "Since She Started to Ride." Some tracks, like the ultracatchy "Strawberry Sundae," get lost in poor sound quality, but that's only a minor complaint when there is so much more to love. Thankfully, Duglas and Francis have continued down this thankless path for as long as they have, because the music world needs more bands like BMX Bandits. And yes, they did take their name from the early-'80s film starring Nicole Kidman.

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